Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mushroom Week!

I really wanted to blog about our mushroom theme this week because, in preparation, I had a hard time finding ideas for the theme online. I'm happy to share what I prepared!

We are reading tons of books about mushrooms and fungi and mold and yeast.

We are also studying scientific classification (taxonomy) this week. I highly recommend the book Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth by Rochelle Strauss. I presents these ideas in an easy to understand way, with beautiful illustrations. We played a classification game. I had Thing One collect ten random things from around the house. We observed each one, then discussed all the different ways we could categorize them (size, color, what they're made from, their use, etc). We discussed the five kingdoms, and then specifically the fungi kingdom.

We went on a mushroom hunt. Because there is a ton of snow on the ground here, and no mushrooms to be found on a walk in the woods this time of year here, we hunted at our grocery store. We bought button mushrooms, baby and large portabellos, dried chanterelles, oysters, and shiitakes. We examined one of each kind of mushrooms, discussing their structure. We touched, smelled and tasted. We made drawings in our science journal. We looked at them through a magnifying glass and also our bionic eye. Thing One had fun watching the chanterelles rehydrate. Then we made crockpot mushroom soup. Our menu this week also contains beef stroganoff with mushrooms, mushroom pizza, and stuffed button mushroom caps.

For the three year old Thing Two, he colored a "M is for mushroom" page, and then made mushroom prints. We cut a button mushroom in half, dipped it in paint and pressed it onto paper. We may try making spore prints later this week.

We started our mold experiment by placing several food items and a damp paper towel in a plastic lidded container to see what grows in the next few days.

We will be baking bread to discuss yeast, and also doing the classic yeast and sugar water in a bottle with a balloon on top experiment later this week.

We are discussing all the helpful aspects of kingdom fungi, and all the not so helpful aspects.

We're watching Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia, since both feature mushrooms prominently.

We are going to discuss fairy rings and do an accompanying coloring page.

For fun, we're reading The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, and Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron. We're also reading Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg, a great book for the preschool set.

Winter Olympics Theme

Last week we did a simple Olympics theme. I cobbled together enough lapbook resources from various free websites, including the Olympic symbol and oath, a chart for tracking medals and some coloring pages of sports that Thing One was unfamiliar with. He chose Poland as his country to focus on. We looked at its geography, he colored its flag, and we are tracking their medals on our chart. We even ate pierogies and polish sausage last week!

We also studied the origins of the Olympics. We used Story of the World Vol. 1 and the accompanying activity book to learn about the ancient Greeks. We located Greece on the map. We wrote our names with Greek letters.